Arthur Stanley Brown
(May 20, 1912 - July 6, 2002) was charged in 1998 for the August 26,
1970 rape and murder of Judith and Susan Mackay in Townsville,
Queensland. The jury failed to reach a verdict and a new trial was
blocked on the grounds that Brown was too senile to be tried again.
Brown's arrest attracted wide publicity leading to a
witness to the abduction of two children from Adelaide oval in 1973
identifying Brown as the man she had seen. Brown is considered a suspect
for the Beaumont children disappearance based on the connections that
have been made between him and the Adelaide oval abduction.
Arthur Brown was born in Merinda, Queensland, on 20
May 1912 and moved to Townsville with his parents when he was four.
Following the separation of his parents he moved to Melbourne, Victoria
with his mother where he remained until he got a drivers licence when he
moved back to Townsville and obtained work as a meatpacker. He was
exempted from military service in World War II as his job was listed as
a Reserved occupation and in 1946 became a maintenance carpenter with
the Queensland Department of Public Works where he was known to his
workmates as a polite, immaculately dressed man, who ironed knife-edge
creases in his work uniforms. He was nicknamed The Scarlet Pimpernel
based on the verse from the play as he could be anywhere at any time due
to flexible work hours and self supervision.
In 1944 Brown married Hester Porter (Née Anderson)
following her divorce and became a stepfather to her three children. On
May 15, 1978 Hester, by now bedridden with arthritis, died after hitting
her head in a fall and Brown married Hester’s younger sister Charlotte,
who had five children, later that year. Some members of Hester’s family
believed Brown had killed her and investigating police believe the
family doctor wrote out a death certificate without examining the body,
which Brown had had cremated.
In 1982 another of Hester's sisters told her parents
that Brown had molested her while a small girl after which many more of
the Anderson extended family came forward to say they also had been
molested. Following legal advice that taking the matter to court could
be traumatic for the victims, the incidents became a family secret. It
was not entirely secret as an entry in Christine Millier's diary dated
January 23, 1991 and produced at his trial in 1999 reads: "Kids and I
went for walk to Strand. Arthur Brown drove by and the kids called him
"rock spider", shouting it out. Eventually they told me what a rock
Five year old Susan and seven year old Judith MacKay
disappeared on the morning of Wednesday, August 26, 1970 from a school
bus stop near their home in the Townsville suburb of Aitkenvale.
A search for the missing girls was mounted after they
failed to return home after school and continued until the girls bodies
were found on Friday in the dry bed of Antill Creek, 25 km (16 mi) south-west
of Townsville. A post-mortem revealed that Susan had been raped,
strangled and stabbed three times in the chest, possibly after death.
Judith had also been raped and stabbed three times in the chest but
cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation by sand. Their school
uniforms were folded neatly beside them.
One witness saw the girls talking to a man in a car
at the bus stop at 8:10am. Just after 11am a car pulled into a service
station at Ayr, 85 km (53 mi) south of Townsville and the driver bought
$3 (around 25 litre/ 5 gll) of petrol. The two girls were in the car and
the station attendant recalled the younger girl saying "Are we there yet?"
followed by the older girl asking the driver, "When are you taking us to
mummy? You promised to take us to mummy." Several other witnesses
reported the girls being driven around in a car and two later reported
seeing a man walking towards a car from the direction the murder scene
about 1pm that day. Most of the witnesses claimed the car was an FJ
Holden but several said it was a blue Vauxhall Victor with an odd
coloured drivers door. One of these was to eventually be a key witness
at the trial as he identified Brown as the driver with two young
passengers that he had argued with over erratic driving that day. Police
were unable to locate either car at the time and the murders remained
unsolved. The Mackay family eventually moved to Toowoomba.
Brown was never a suspect in the original police
In 1998, a cousin of Brown’s wife who was now living
in Perth, Western Australia had been one of Brown’s victims and also had
suspicions about his involvement with the MacKay sisters, she decided to
phone Crimestoppers after they aired a program on the case.
Sergeant David Hickey of the Queensland homicide
squad, who was conducting the cold case review of the MacKay murders,
returned the call three days later. After interviewing other family
members police had 45 cases against Brown relating to pedophilia and
circumstantial evidence linking him to the MacKay murders.
Investigations continued and evidence accumulated. Brown had been
obsessed by the case, falsely claiming he knew the girls' father and two
weeks after the murders he had offered to take two of his wife’s cousins
to view the murder site. He had replaced the odd-coloured door from his
blue Vauxhall Victor, buried it, then later dug it up and took it to the
rubbish tip explaining to his family he did it because he didn't want
anyone interviewing or annoying him. Many of his victims were taken to
Antill Creek to be molested and one instance was only 20 metres (66 ft)
from where the girls bodies were found. He twice confessed to the
murders, once to a stranger in a pub and once to his apprentice in 1975
who said he never came forward before because it seemed totally out of
character and he though Brown was joking. Brown was arrested on 28
charges of sexual assault and rape and for the murders of Susan and
Trial and aftermath
The trial of Arthur Stanley Brown for the murders of
Judith and Susan Mackay, began on October 18, 1999.
Although evidence regarding Brown’s pedophilia had
been given at the committal hearing it had been ruled prejudicial at
trial and therefore could not be put before the Supreme Court jury, the
jury were unable to reach a decision on the strong but circumstantial
A new trial was set for July 31, 2000 but before it
could start newspapers reported “the case did not proceed for legal
reasons which cannot be published”. The court suppressed release of the
legal reasons until July 2001.
In 2001 it was revealed that Brown's lawyer had
applied for a section 613 verdict (unfit to be tried) from the jury. The
jury had rejected the application, but in the meantime Brown's wife
Charlotte had referred the case to the Queensland Mental Health Tribunal
who ruled that Brown had progressive dementia and was also suffering
from Alzheimer's disease, and was thus unfit to stand trial. The
Attorney-General lodged an appeal and the court concluded that the
Mental Health Tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to make the ruling
and commissioned an independent psychiatric report. In July 2001 the
report concluded that Brown was unfit to stand trial because he was
suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease and all charges against
him were dropped.
Charlotte Brown died in April 2002. Ostracized by his
family he moved into a nursing home in Malanda, north Queensland where
he died three months later on July 6, officially an innocent man.
Everybody involved with the MacKay case is satisfied that Brown
committed the murders and police have closed the file.
Along with Bevan Spencer von Einem, he is considered
to be the best suspect for the Beaumont children disappearance as he
bore a similarity to an identikit picture of the suspect for both the
Beaumont children and Adelaide Oval cases. A search for a connection to
the Beaumonts was unsuccessful as no employment records existed that
could shed light on his work history such as showing holidays when he
may have travelled interstate. Some of the records were believed lost in
the 1974 Brisbane flood and it is also possible that Brown, who had
unrestricted access to government buildings may have deleted his own
employment files. Brown is considered a suspect for the Beaumont
children disappearance, based on the connections that have been made
between him and the Adelaide Oval Abduction.
Although there is no proof that he had ever visited
Adelaide, a witness recalled having a conversation with Brown in which
he mentioned having seen the Adelaide Festival Centre nearing completion
which places him in Adelaide after June 1973. The oval abduction
occurred on August 25, 1973.
Another witness who earlier had reported seeing a man
near the oval carrying a young girl while another older girl (the two
victims?) in obvious distress followed, identified Brown as the man she
had seen after seeing his picture on television in December 1998 in
relation to his arrest for the MacKay murders. This identification
though is based on that of a woman who was aged 14 when she saw him,
only for one minute, and who then saw a picture of Brown, now aged 86,
25 years later.
Arthur Stanley Brown
first came to media attention in relation to the Beaumont children case
in December 1998. Then aged 86, he was charged with the murders of
Judith and Susan Mackay, aged 5 and 7, in Townsville, Queensland, on 26
The arrest for the long-unsolved murders attracted
wide publicity and it was quickly noted that Brown matched the
descriptions for the suspects in the Beaumont children and Oval
Abduction cases. As well as his similarity to the identikit images,
Brown was also conceivably the right age to have committed the other
crimes. South Australian police announced that they would investigate,
but also said that in the absence of any concrete evidence Brown was not
a suspect. The similarity between pictures of Brown and identikit
pictures could not be considered evidence.
1. The murder of the Mackay
Judith, aged 7, and Susan, aged 5, were the youngest
of six children of Bill and Thelma Mackay. The Mackay family lived in
Aitkenvale, an outer suburb of Townsville. On the morning of Wednesday,
26 August 1970, Bill Mackay left for work, before his youngest two
children were awake, so he kissed them both while they slept. He was to
never see them alive again.
The sisters left the house at 8:10am and walked to
the nearby bus stop around the corner, where they were to catch the bus
to school. Witnesses later confirmed that the girls did reach the bus
stop, but by the time the bus arrived 10 minutes later they had gone.
Their absence was not noticed until they did not arrive home after
A search was mounted that night and was extended the
next day. On Friday, with the girls still not located, the search was
extended again. A New Zealand carpenter named Richard Tough was sent
with two other men to search near Antill Creek, 25 kilometres south-west
of Townsville. Tough's statement to police later read:
In company with two other men I was engaged in a
search party for two missing girls who had disappeared whilst on
their way to school.
We traveled along the Townsville to Charter
Towers Highway and made a search in various places along this road
prior to going to a spot near Antill Creek. We parked the car and
set off in various directions. I traversed the creek bank and dry
Whilst searching in the creek I saw what appeared
to be child's footprints in the sand. I continued to walk along the
creek bed and, about ten yards further on, I then saw the body of a
The child was Susan Mackay. Tough figured that she
was dead and returned to the highway, yelling for help. The taxi radio
was used to summon police and Tough stood guard over the body for an
hour, waiting for police to arrive. When police arrived an hour later
they found Judith Mackay's body about 70 metres away, near the opposite
bank of the creek.
The murders of two young girls caused massive horror
in Townsville and a huge police investigation was launched. However, the
investigation faltered and police focused on the makes of several cars
that had been seen either in the area from which the sisters had been
abducted, or the area where their bodies were found. One was an FJ
Holden, which police decided might have been the murderer's car. The
other was a blue Vauxhall Victor Sedan, with an odd-coloured driver's
side door. They were unable to locate either car.
The murders of Judith and Susan seemed likely to
remain unsolved. The Mackay family, unable to bear living in the area,
eventually moved to Toowoomba.
2. About Brown
Brown had been born in Merinda, Queensland, on 20 May
1912. His early life was unremarkable, but his parents split and he
moved to Melbourne with his mother, where he may have remained until old
enough to get his driver's license. He then returned to Queensland,
where he'd remained. During the Second World War he was working as a
meatpacker, which was a reserved occupation, and then he became a
carpenter until he retired in 1977, aged 65.
Brown had become close to an extended family, the
Andersons. There were six daughters and two sons in the family, one of
the daughters being named Hester. She married and become Hester Porter
and had three children, but her marriage ended in divorce. She then
married Brown, with whom she lived for 34 until she died on 15 May 1978.
By Brown's account she had fallen while trying to get on a commode, had
hit her head and been killed. Some members of her family, however, were
convinced that Brown had killed her.
Brown had become well known in the Anderson family
for his womanising, and as well as Hester he had probably conducted
relationships with three of her sisters. However, the oldest sister,
Milly, once said that Hester had confided to her: "He doesn't just like
big girls -- he likes little girls too".
In fact, Brown was a paedophile and had molested at
least five of the girls in the extended Andersen family. The incidents
were kept secret by the individual victims until 1982, when one told her
parents that she had been molested by Brown while a small girl. Other
victims in the family came forward until it was realised, by most
members of the extended family, that Brown was a paedophile.
Under family pressure and following legal advice,
Brown's victims did not declare publicly what had happened. It was
reasoned that it would be too traumatic for the victims to recall the
incidents in court. They therefore remained a family secret.
It wasn't entirely a family secret, however.
Christine Millier, a relative, recorded in her diary on 23 January 1991:
Kids (state wards) and I went for walk to Strand.
Arthur Brown drove by and the kids called him "rock spider",
shouting it out. Eventually they told me what a rock spider was.
"Rock Spider" is a slang prison term for a child
molester. It is never used in jest.
3. Suspect for Mackay
In 1998, Merle Martin Moss, sister of Christine
Millier, was living in Perth, Western Australia. One evening she was
looking through a family "birthday book" when she came across a picture
of Brown. She had been one of his victims and like the others had agreed
not to say anything publicly about him. However, she suspected that he
might have been involved in the murder of the Mackay sisters and decided
to take action. She phoned Crimestoppers and told them what she knew.
The murder of the Mackay sisters was being subject to
a cold-case review by Sergeant David Hickey, of the Queensland homicide
squad. Three days after Moss's call to Crimestoppers, a message to call
her was passed to him. He telephoned her and listened as she told him
why she thought Brown might have been the culprit.
Interviews with other family members followed, and
police eventually built up a list of 45 charges against Brown relating
to his own family. In addition to this, of course, the reopened
investigation into the murders continued. Evidence which had been
previously ignored led police to believe that Brown was indeed the
Among other things, the family told police, Brown had
been obsessed by the case. A couple of weeks after the murders he told
one family member, who did not know about his paedophile activities: "I
could've done that."
He also removed the odd-coloured door from his
Vauxhall and buried it, because he said he didn't want anyone
interviewing or annoying him, and he offered to take Millier and Moss to
see the place where the bodies had been found. They refused. On another
occasion, he molested one of his other victims and made her look at
pornographic magazines only 20 metres from where the bodies of the
Mackay sisters had been found.
4. Other cases for which Brown
became a suspect
It was not just the Mackay sisters case in which
police saw a possible connection, however. There were a series of other
cases for which Brown appeared to be a good suspect:
The disappearance of Marilyn Joy Wallman, at
Eimeo, Queensland, on 21 March 1972. Fourteen year old Marilyn
Wallman had disappeared while on the way to school. Her family's
home was over a hill from the main road, from which she was to catch
a bus to school. Having cycled ahead of her brothers, over the hill
and out of sight, Marilyn vanished. Her brothers, having crested the
hill, saw her bicycle lying on its side. The younger of her two
brothers could hear voices from the other side of a canefield, but
couldn't tell if one was that of his sister. She has never been
Brown is considered to be a suspect for this
disappearance. At around the same time as Marilyn Wallman's
disappearance, the Browns had gone to visit Hester's relatives who
lived in nearby Mackay. Brown's car broke down so they returned home
by train. Brown then went back alone to retrieve the car but did not
return for some time. Police confirm that a chalky blue Vauxhall was
seen in the area at around the time of the disappearance. Brown
could not have committed the crime on this day because he would have
been returning with his car long after Marilyn Wallman disappeared,
but it is entirely possible for him to have been in the same area on
a different day.
The murder of Catherine Graham near Townsville,
Queensland, on 28 July 1975. Graham, a teenager, had phoned her
mother from a phone box that evening. Her last words to her mother
were: "There is someone peering at me mum -- and I don't like the
look of him". Having left the phone box, she bought a hamburger at
the nearby Rising Sun fish shop at 8:10pm and then visited a friend
at Townsville General Hospital. She then went to the Townsville Post
Office where she was seen at 9pm, before visiting a family friend in
The Avenue in the suburb of Hyde Park. That was her last known
movement. Her savagely-battered body was found the next day in long
grass off the Flinders Highway, 24 kilometres west of Townsville.
Catherine Graham had been selling books door-to-door,
and the day she was murdered had been seen doing this close to
Brown's house. Her body, when it was discovered, was only 500 metres
from where the bodies of the Mackay sisters had been found, five
years previously. While police believed that the murder had been
committed by more than one person, they admitted that there were
similarities with the Mackay sisters murders. The disposal of the
bodies was very similar and there were other similarities which have
not been specified.
Interestingly, however, Detective Sergeant Phil
Notaro said of the case in 2001: "We believe at least one of the
culprits is still in or near Townsville. We are pretty confident of
that." There were also semen swabs taken from the scene, but these
were of poor quality.
5. Connection with the
Brown's arrest for the murder of the Mackay sisters
attracted Australia-wide publicity, particularly in South Australia,
which had its own share of unsolved child murders with the Beaumont
children and Oval Abduction cases. There was a definite similarity
between published pictures of Brown and the identikits of the suspects
in both the South Australian cases, and Superintendent Paul Schramm, the
officer in charge of the South Australian Major Crime Investigation
section, said that investigations were being made to determine whether
Brown had ever visited South Australia.
The South Australian police approached Queensland
homicide and ran a joint inquiry involving the Bureau of Criminal
Intelligence, based in Canberra. They had forwarded information to the
Violent Crime Linkage Assessment unit. Schramm said: "We are taking it
seriously and we are seeing if there is any connection. We have analysts
working very closely together to try and piece together the last 30
The search was utterly unsuccessful. Every piece of
information that might have detailed when or where Brown had been
working, had been lost. There was no way of determining when he had
taken holidays. Some of the information might have been lost in the 1974
floods which affected central Brisbane, but Brown had also had
unrestricted access to many government buildings and could have easily
have removed files and paperwork himself.
Without records, police were unable to establish
where Brown had been at any time, nor when he had taken holidays. There
was no proof that he had ever visited Adelaide. However, Christine
Millier recalls having a conversation with Brown in which Brown
mentioned having seen Adelaide's Festival Theatre when it was almost
finished. The first stage of construction of the theatre was finished in
June 1973, when a concert was performed there. It looks across the river
to Adelaide Oval, from where the Oval Abduction took place on 25 August
The Oval Abduction is the key link between Brown and
the Beaumont children case. Apart from the similarity of identikit
pictures to his photograph, direct connections between Brown and the
Beaumont children disappearance remain elusive. Direction connections
have, however, been drawn with the Oval Abduction. While it is by no
means certain that the Oval Abduction and the Beaumont disappearance are
the acts of the same perpetrator, many people believe that they are. If
this is the case then Brown may be considered a suspect for the Beaumont
children disappearance, based on the connections that have been made
between him and the Oval Abduction.
Most critically, an eyewitness has placed him at the
scene of the Oval Abduction. Sue Lawrie, then aged 14, was walking with
her father along the banks of the Torrens River, about one kilometre
from Adelaide Oval. Speaking years later, she said:
We walked out from the zoo and were about midway
between Popeye and the University Bridge. I looked across the river
and saw a very young girl being carried by a man who I thought was
her grandfather. He had a hat and a checked jacket on. She was
crying and the older girl, I think she was a few years younger than
me, was running after him. She was thumping him and punching into
him and crying out at him. I saw all that for about 60 seconds. The
thing seemed wrong because I would have thought if he was a relative
he would have shooed her… It was after I married, I was about 18 or
20, I kept on and on at my husband about my memories -- and I read
another article on the abduction. My husband said "go and do
something about it". I went to the chief investigator in about
1979-80 and made a full statement. I was sure of many things,
including the time, because the siren went for the beginning or end
of the third-quarter. Dad remarked on the game, but I don't think he
saw what I was watching on the other side of the river. I believe on
the day of the abduction the police were looking in an opposite
direction to where we were walking. The only other thing I need to
say is the parents of Joanne should take heart that little girl did
everything she could to protect her little friend.
Lawrie said that the man's hat was wide-brimmed, with
a low, flat crown, which was unusual in Adelaide in 1973. In more recent
years wide-brimmed hats have become a fashion accessory, but in 1973
they were usually worn in the more northern parts of Australia, for
protection against the sun. Lawrie, who had travelled to visit relatives
in Queensland, described the hat as "very Queensland country"
Lawrie had a good look at the man's face. In December
1998, when Brown was arrested for the murder of the Mackay sisters,
Lawrie caught a glimpse of Brown's face on television. She thought she
recognised him from somewhere but couldn't think where. The next morning
a friend from Adelaide phoned and asked her what she thought of the news.
Before her friend could explain that there was speculation about Brown
being linked with the Beaumont children disappearance and the Oval
abduction, Lawrie exclaimed "My God! It's him". She believed that Brown
was the man she'd seen 25 years earlier.
The Mackay sisters murder trial
The trial of Arthur Stanley Brown for the murders of
Judith and Susan Mackay, began on 18 October 1999.
Tiny footprints led to
Tuesday 19th October 1999 p7
A SUPREME Court jury yesterday was transported almost
30 years back in time by the words of two elderly witnesses, who
recalled how tiny footprints in the sand led searchers to the bodies of
two schoolgirls left murdered in a dry creek bed.
In the dock sat Arthur Stanley Brown, an 87-year-old
retired carpenter, facing the first day of his trial in Townsville
Supreme Court for the murders of Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith,
7, in August 1970.
Brown, who is on bail, has pleaded not guilty to
charges of murdering the Mackay sisters, indecently dealing with them
and depriving them of their liberty.
The two main witnesses yesterday were Richard Tough,
69 -- also a retired carpenter -- who found Susan's body, and Charles
Bopf, 76, a retired police superintendent who led the initial
Mr Tough, who was then an itinerant worker from New
Zealand, told the court he arrived in Townsville on August 27, 1970, the
day after the Mackay sisters disappeared while waiting to catch a bus to
The next day he took part in a massive search for the
missing girls, joining a four-man team led by taxi driver Ronald Brooker.
They drove 25km south-west from Townsville to Antill
Creek, where they split up and Mr Tough began searching the creek bed.
Little indentations in the sand, which he guessed
were a child's footprints, led him to a site that shocked him so much he
dropped the stick he was carrying to ward off snakes.
"I saw a body which I now know was a wee lassie
called Susan Mackay," he said.
"She had little white panties on, nothing else."
He shouted "cooee" twice, alerting Mr Brooker, who
drove off to get police.
Mr Bopf, then a detective sergeant with Townsville
CIB, arrived soon afterwards.
He told the court how another police officer led him
to the naked body of Judith Mackay, lying face down in the sand. Nearby
he found the girls' straw school hats and school ports.
In the ports he found their shoes,
each with a white sock placed neatly inside, two skipping ropes, rulers,
pencil cases and plastic lunch boxes containing sandwiches wrapped in
greaseproof paper -- "the kind they used to use before Glad Wrap".
Post-mortem reports by a now-deceased government
medical officer were read to the court. They said both girls had been
sexually interfered with and stabbed three times in the chest.
The medical officer found that Susan had been
strangled to death, while Judith, whose mouth was full of sand and whose
lungs had collapsed, had died of asphyxiation.
Mackay trial told of
Wednesday 20th October 1999 p4
The Australian -
Police investigating the murder of the Mackay sisters
questioned a self styled astral traveller, a Perth prisoner who
confessed to the crime and a relative of the dead girls, Townsville
Supreme Court heard yesterday.
But Arthur Stanley Brown, the 87-year-old now charged
with the sexual assault and murder of the two girls was never a suspect
in the original police investigation in the early 1970s, retired police
superintendent Charles Bopf told the court.
Mr Bopf, who lead the investigation, was giving
evidence after taking Justice Keiran Cullinane and the jury on a tour of
the murder scene.
The jury was taken by bus 25km south-west of
Townsville to Antill Creek, where the bodies of Susan Mackay, 5, and her
sister Judith, 7, were found on August 28, 1970.
Mr Brown, who was arrested in December last year, has
pleaded not guilty to murdering the Mackay sisters, indecently dealing
with them and depriving them of their liberty.
Mr Bopf, a detective-sergeant with Townsville CIB in
1970, agreed with defence counsel Mark Donnelly that while investigating
such a serious crime police had to follow every lead.
An inmate of Townsville's Stuart Prison had confessed
to the murder of the Mackay sisters, claiming he committed the crime
while astral travelling from his cell.
A Perth prison inmate, Wayne Francis Gould, also
confessed to the crime and was flown to Townsville to take part in a
police line-up, but was eliminated as a suspect after showing little
knowledge of the circumstances of the case.
Also questioned was Bill Trangman, the de facto
husband if the Mackay sisters' mother, but Mr Bopf said he was "completely
and absolutely eliminated" as a suspect.
Accused often spoke of Mackay murders
'He offered to take us for a drive to
show us where the bodies were found'
Thursday 21st October 1999 p4
- Kevin Meade
The man accused of murdering the Mackay sisters
offered to take two of his female relatives on a trip to the murder site
just weeks after they were killed, Townsville Supreme Court heard
Arthur Stanley Brown, 87, often talked about the
murders of Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith, 7, and claimed he
knew the girls' father, relatives told the court.
Mr Brown has pleaded not guilty to the murder of the
sisters, whose bodies were found in the dry bed of Antill Creek, 25km
south-west of Townsville, on August 28, 1970.
The girls had disappeared two days earlier while
waiting for a bus to school near their home in the Townsville suburb of
Merle Martin-Moss and her sister Christine Millier,
who were cousins of Mr Brown's late wife Hester, said Mr Brown discussed
the murders with them a few weeks after the girls were killed.
"He offered to take (Merle) and I, and Hester, for a
drive to Antill Creek to show us where the bodies were found," Ms
Ms Millier said Mr Brown also told them he knew the
Mackay sisters' father William Mackay.
But Mr Mackay gave evidence yesterday that he had
never heard of Mr Brown until he was arrested in December last year.
Another relative, Valerie Porter, said that while the
family was discussing the Mackay murders, Mr Brown had said: "I could
have done that."
Ms Porter said that on another occasion, Mr Brown had
said he had taken a door off his car, buried it, dug it up again and
taken it to the dump.
The prosecution case is that several witnesses who
saw a man driving across Townsville with two young girls on the day the
Mackay sisters disappeared reported that the driver side door of his car
was a different colour from the rest of the vehicle.
A heated exchange erupted yesterday between defence
counsel Mark Donnelly and arresting officer David Hickey over comments
Mr Brown allegedly made in the Townsville watch house on December 3 last
year, the day he was arrested.
Sergeant Hickey said that after he was formally
charged, Mr Brown had said: "Those Mackays have got me stumped you
Asked what he meant, Mr Brown had said: "Well I've
lived in this town over 30 years and I've never heard of any Mackay
Mr Donnelly accused Sergeant Hickey of making it up.
A tape recording of an interview Sergeant Hickey
conducted with Mr Brown at his home earlier that day was played to the
During a tea break in the interview, Mr Brown and his
second wife Charlotte are heard talking about one of the dead girls
after seeing her name on a search warrant police had served them.
"Who's Susan Deborah Mackay?" Mrs Brown asks.
"I don't know," Mr Brown says. "I'm supposed to have
The case continues.
Kidnap witnesses 'haunted'
Friday 22nd October 1999 p3
The Australian -
Two witnesses told the Mackay sisters murder trial
yesterday how they had been haunted by the memory of seeing the two
little girls being driven by their abductor through the streets of
Townsville 29 years ago.
Vietnam veteran Neil Lunney twice told Townsville
Supreme Court the man he saw that day was Arthur Stanley Brown, the 87-year-old
retired carpenter charged with the murder of the sisters.
During questioning by defence counsel Mark Donnelly
about the appearance and dress of the man he saw driving the girls, Mr
Lunney gestured towards Brown in the dock and snapped: "What are we
talking about this for? He is sitting right there."
Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith, 7,
disappeared while waiting to catch a bus to school in the Townsville
suburb of Aitkenvale on August 26, 1970. Their bodies were found two
days later in the dry bed of Antill Creek, 25km south-west of Townsville.
Brown has pleaded not guilty to murdering the girls,
sexually assaulting them and depriving them of their liberty.
Mr Lunney, then a 29-year-old soldier recently
returned from Vietnam, said he was running late for work on the day the
Mackay sisters disappeared.
Driving towards Lavarack Barracks, he was angered by
a driver who would not let him pass. Sitting in the front seat with the
man were two little girls in the green uniforms of Aitkenvale State
School -- the school the Mackay sisters attended.
During a heated exchange with Mr Donnelly, Mr Lunney
was reminded that many times after that day he would drive around
Townsville looking for the man he had seen with the girls.
Mr Lunney jumped to his feet and shouted: "If you had
the same images in your mind of that man and those children you would
feel the same way."
Justice Keiran Cullinane ordered him to sit down.
Mr Lunney said that finding the man and helping to
bring him to justice would "drive the images out of my mind".
William Hankin, a council roller driver, saw two
school-girls being driven by a man in the Aitkenvale area the same day.
He said he had flashbacks whenever he returned to the scene.
"I see those little girls going past...all over again,"
Jean Thwaite,76, said she saw the Mackay sisters
about 11am the same day at the service station she ran with her husband
in Ayr, 85km south of Townsville.
Mrs Thwaite said she became aware it was the Mackay
sisters the next night, when she recognised the younger girl in a
photograph shown in a television news report of their disappearance.
The trial continues.
Mackay accused confessed, court told
October 1999 p3
The Weekend Australian
The retired carpenter charged with the murder of the
Mackay sisters confessed to an apprentice in 1975 that he had killed the
girls, Townsville Supreme Court heard yesterday.
John Hill, 40, a building manager of the Sunshine
Coast, told the court he worked as Arthur Stanley Brown's apprentice for
about 18 months in the mid-1970s.
Mr Brown, 87, has pleaded not guilty to charges of
murdering Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith, 7, sexually assaulting
them and depriving them of their liberty in August 1970.
Mr Hill said that one day in 1975, when he was a 16-year-old
apprentice working with Mr Brown, they were driving past the Townsville
police station and saw an FJ Holden parked outside it.
The car jogged Mr Hill's memory as he recalled that
police investigating the Mackay sisters murders had been searching for
an FJ Holden.
Mr Hill said he remarked to Mr Brown that police had
still not solved the murders and probably never would.
He said Mr Brown replied: "I know all about that. I
He said Mr Brown was not the kind of person to tell
jokes, but he did not believe the confession because it was totally out
It was for this reason that he did not tell anybody
about the confession until December last year, when he contacted police
after hearing that Mr Brown had been arrested and charged with the
The trial continues.
Vietnam vet's evidence key to Mackay sisters
Tuesday 26th October 1999 p5
- Kevin Meade
THE evidence of a former soldier who testified he saw
two little girls being driven across Townsville by an erratic driver 29
years ago, emerged yesterday as a key plank in the Crown case against an
87-year-old man charged with the murder of the Mackay sisters.
Summing up the Crown case, prosecutor Jim Henry told
a jury in the Townsville Supreme Court that if it accepted the evidence
of Neil Lunney it would have to find Arthur Stanley Brown guilty of
murdering the Mackay sisters on August 26, 1970.
Mr Lunney, who was 29 in August 1970 and had only
recently returned from active service in Vietnam, testified last week
that he saw two little girls in school uniforms in a car in front of him
as he drove to work on the day the Mackay sisters went missing.
He said the driver had angered him because he would
not let him pass and had tried to run him off the road.
Mr Lunney has identified Mr Brown as the man he saw
Mr Henry said Mr Lunney had good reasons to remember
the driver's face. He had been enraged by the man's driving and had a
good look at him when he drew level with his car in order to berate him.
"He is the man who had a good look at the man who
drove the Mackay girls to their death," Mr Henry said.
Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith, 7,
disappeared while waiting for a bus to school. Their bodies were found
two days later in a dry creek bed 25km south-west of Townsville.
Evidence has been given that Mr Brown was a
maintenance carpenter at Townsville schools, including the one the
Mackay girls attended.
Mr Brown has pleaded not guilty to charges of
murdering the girls, sexually assaulting them and depriving them of
Yesterday, he elected not to give evidence on his own
Mr Henry said the defence, in its cross-examination
of witnesses, had made much of the evidence that Mr Brown was a neat and
fastidious man who wore "creases like knife blades" in the sleeves of
his work shirts.
But Mr Brown's neatness was a "two-edged sword" for
the defence, Mr Henry said, pointing out that when the girls' bodies
were found, their school uniforms were folded neatly beside them.
The trial continues.
No evidence that accused knew sisters, court
Wednesday 27th October 1999 p5
There was not a shred of evidence to suggest that the
Mackay sisters knew Arthur Stanley Brown, the 87-year-old man charged
with their murders, defence counsel Mark Donnelly told the Townsville
Supreme Court yesterday.
Summing up the defence case, Mr Donnelly said that
while Susan and Judith Mackay were among 400 students at Aitkenvale
State School in Townsville at the time they were murdered, the
prosecution had been unable to produce any witnesses who could testify
that they had seen Mr Brown at the school.
Mr Brown -- a maintenance carpenter at schools and
other state government buildings at the time -- has pleaded not guilty
to charges of abducting, sexually assaulting and murdering Susan Mackay,
5 and her sister Judith, 7, on August 26, 1970.
Witnesses have told the trial they saw two girls
being driven by a man on the day the sisters disappeared.
Mr Donnelly said there was ample evidence to suggest
the sisters would not accept a lift from someone they did not know very
well. He said their father, William Mackay, had testified they had been
well educated about the dangers of taking lifts from strangers.
They had even refused lifts offered by a couple who
lived in the same street as they did.
Mr Donnelly said 17 witnesses who reported seeing a
suspicious vehicle the day the girls disappeared all said they saw a
Holden, but Mr Brown drove a Vauxhall at the time.
He also challenged the evidence given by Neil Lunney,
a Vietnam veteran who said he saw a man driving two girls in Aitkenvale
school uniforms as he drove to work on the day the sisters disappeared.
Prosecutor Jim Henry had told the jury on Monday that
if they accepted Mr Lunney's evidence, they would have to convict Mr
Mr Lunney, who identified Mr Brown as the man he saw
that day, had testified that he had a good look at the driver and
remembered him well because he had almost run him off the road.
But Mr Donnelly said Mr Lunney's wife Alice, who was
travelling with him at the time, had testified she had seen the car in
question for only "a matter of seconds".
Mr Donnelly said the evidence of John Hill, a former
apprentice to Mr Brown, was also questionable.
Mr Hill had testified that Mr Brown had confessed to
him in 1975 that he had killed the sisters.
But until Mr Brown was arrested in December last year,
Mr Hill had not told anyone about the alleged confession -- not even his
wife Michelle, who was in Judith Mackay's class at Aitkenvale State
The jury is expected to begin considering its verdict
Jury out for Brown
Thursday 28th October 1999 p5
A TOWNSVILLE Supreme Court jury yesterday began
considering its verdict in the trial of Arthur Stanley Brown, a retired
carpenter charged with the murder of the Mackay sisters.
Mr Brown, 87, was granted bail by Justice Keiran
Cullinane at 6pm and returned home after the jury ceased the day's
deliberations without a verdict. Mr Brown has pleaded not guilty to
abducting, sexually assaulting and murdering Susan Mackay, 5, and her
sister Judith, 7, near Townsville in 1970.
Retrial for Mackay girls murder accused
Friday 29th October 1999 p3
- Kevin Meade
Arthur Stanley Brown, the 87-year-old man charged
with the murder of the Mackay sisters, will face a retrial next year
after a hung jury failed to reach a verdict yesterday and was dismissed.
Mr Brown, who pleaded not guilty to one of the most
notorious crimes in Queensland's history, was granted bail and caught a
taxi back to his home after Justice Keiran Cullinane dismissed the jury
in the Townsville Supreme Court.
Mr Brown is charged with the abduction, sexual
assault and murder of Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith, 7, on
August 26, 1970.
Justice Cullinane told the court the jury had
informed him they felt it would be impossible for them to reach a
He said relations among the jurors had deteriorated
and their discussions had become heated. "I have no option but to
discharge the jury," he said.
Justice Cullinane adjourned the trial to the next
criminal sittings in Townsville in May.
He said it was unfortunate the jury had failed to
reach a verdict, but he thanked them for their attempts to reach
The jury began deliberating at 11am on Wednesday, the
eighth day of the trial.
Mr Brown, who showed no emotion when the jury was
discharged, shuffled from the courthouse to catch a taxi, escorted by
wife Charlotte and stepdaughter Pamela Miller.
Susan and Judith Mackay disappeared while waiting to
catch a bus to school on August 20, 1970.
Their bodies were found two days later in the dry bed
of Antill Creek, 25km south-west of Townsville.
Witnesses told police they saw a man in a car talking
to two little girls at the bus stop.
Other witnesses said they saw a man driving two
little girls in school uniforms across Townsville.
Mr Brown was not a suspect in the original police
investigation in the 1970s. He was arrested in December last year after
the Brisbane-based Homicide Squad reopened the investigation into the
long-unsolved Mackay sisters' case.
Unresolved murder case still haunts Townsville
Friday 29th October 1999 p17
Kevin Meade reports on a mystery that
has gripped a city
Judith Mackay would have been 36 by now. Her sister
Susan would have been 34. If they still lived in Townsville, they
probably would have been among the thousands of people who have
celebrated the opening of the north Queensland city's Strand
redevelopment during the past two weeks with a hectic round of beach
parties, water sport events and firework displays.
But Judith did not make it past seven and Susan was
only five when the two girls were brutally murdered in a dry creek bed
29 years ago.
Many Townsville residents during the past fortnight
have been preoccupied with an event they consider far more significant
then the Strand opening: the trial of Arthur Stanley Brown, 87, the
retired carpenter charged with the murder of the Mackay sisters.
They had hoped the trial would be cathartic, finally
bringing to an end one of the darkest chapters in the city's history.
But it was not to be. In the Townsville Supreme Court yesterday, a jury
was dismissed after failing to reach a verdict.
Brown, who pleaded not guilty to charges of abducting
Susan and Judith Mackay, sexually assaulting them and murdering them on
August 26, 1970, will face a retrial next year.
The Mackay sisters' last day on earth began in an
atmosphere of cosy domesticity, with their father William Mackay kissing
them goodbye at their home in the Townsville suburb of Aitkenvale before
heading off to work.
Before the day was over, their short lives would be
terminated in an orgy of depraved lust and brutality in the dry bed of
Antill Creek, a desolate place 25km south-west of Townsville, just off
the highway to Mt Isa.
Susan was wearing only her panties when her body was
found two days later by Richard Tough, 40, an itinerant worker from New
Zealand who had arrived in Townsville the previous day looking for work
but had instead joined a search for the missing girls.
A post-mortem revealed that Susan had been raped and
stangled to death. She had also been stabbed three times in the chest,
possibly after she had died.
Judith's body was found completely naked, 70m away.
She was also raped and stabbed three times in the
chest, but the cause of death was found to be asphyxiation by sand.
The Mackay sister disappeared after leaving their
home just after 8am on August 26 to catch a bus to school. Witnesses saw
them waiting at a bus stop to Ross River Road. One witness, now dead,
told police she saw them talking to a man who had pulled up his car near
the bus stop.
Brown, who was 58 at the time of the murders, lived a
life of obscurity until his arrest in December last year. He was born in
the small town of Merinda, near Bowen in north Queensland, and moved to
Townsville with his parents when he was four. As a meatworker in
Townsville during World War II, he was excused from military service as
his job was listed as a "reserved occupation", vital to the war effort.
After the war, he started working as a carpenter with
the Queensland Public Works Department and remained in that job until he
retired at 65.
He was a roving maintenance man, doing repair work at
a variety of government buildings in Townsville including Aitkenvale
State School, the school the Mackay sisters attended.
A polite, immaculately dressed man, who ironed knife-edge
creases in the sleeves of his work shirts, Brown was known to his
workmates as "the Scarlet Pimpernel".
Neil Doherty, who worked with Brown in 1970, said he
earned the nickname because he worked his own hours and workmates would
never know where he would be at any given time.
Fellow workers, in a popular joke at Mr Brown's
expense, would say: "They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek
After the Mackay sisters' bodies were found, the
biggest criminal investigation in Townsville's history was launched and
reports that a man had been seen driving across town with two
schoolgirls began trickling in.
Just after 11am in August 26, 1970, a car pulled into
the Shell Service Station at Ayr, 85km south of Townsville.
Jean Thwaite, who ran the service station with her
husband, said the man at the wheel, who was grumpy and seemed
preoccupied, gruffly demanded $3 worth of petrol. As she filled the tank,
she saw a little girl with a tear-stained face in the back seat.
Thwaite said the girl rubbed her eyes and asked the
man, "Are we there yet?"
In the front seat was a slightly older girl who said:
"When are you taking us to mummy? You promised to take us to mummy."
Thwaite was among several witnesses who saw two
schoolgirls being driven by a man that day. And at least two witnesses
reported seeing a man walking towards a car from the direction of Antill
Creek, the murder scene, about 1pm that day.
But most of the witnesses, if they could remember the
make of the car they saw, said it was a Holden. None of them said it was
a 1964 Vauxhall Victor, the make Brown owned at the time.
of the trial
The second trial of Arthur Stanley Brown was due to
begin on Monday, 31 July 2000. However, the case failed to start.
According to the Townsville Bulletin, "the case did not proceed
for legal reasons which cannot be published."
The legal reasons for the failure of the case to
start were suppressed until July 2001. It has since been revealed that
Brown's lawyer applied under section 613 of the Queensland criminal code,
for a verdict on Brown's fitness to stand trial.
The code says that for a defendant to receive a
proper defence, he or she must be able to instruct their lawyer to best
defend the case. To be able to give appropriate instructions the
defendent must themselves be able to understand the case against them.
Therefore, under section 613 of the criminal code,
the defendent's lawyer may apply to the jury for a verdict on whether
the defendent is capable of understanding the case, and thus ultimately
on whether the defendent is fit to be tried.
Brown's lawyer applied for a section 613 verdict from
the jury. The jury concluded that Brown was able to make a proper
defence, but in the meantime Brown's wife Charlotte had referred the
case to the Queensland Mental Health Tribunal, under the Mental Health
On 14 September 2000, the tribunal ruled that Brown
had progressive dementia and was also suffering from Alzheimer's disease,
and was thus unfit to stand trial.
The Queensland Attorney-General lodged an appeal
against this decision, on the basis that the Mental Health Tribunal did
not have the jurisdiction to make the ruling. The Attorney-General's
appeal was heard by the Queensland Court of Appeal in February 2001. In
May 2001, by a 2-1 majority, the appeal court concluded that the Mental
Health Tribunal did indeed have no jurisdiction.
An independent psychiatric report into Brown's health
was commissioned. The report concluded in July 2001 that Brown was unfit
to stand trial because he was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's
disease. The Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare,
therefore dropped the charges against him.
Evidence about Brown having sexually abused young
children had been given at the committal hearing but had been considered
prejudical and had therefore not been put before the Supreme Court jury.
The 28 charges of sexual assault and rape were now dropped along with
the murder charges. These charges had not been proceeded with while
Brown had been on trial for murder, and the news that they had been
discontinued upset his other victims. Commenting from his home, Bill
Mackay said: "We don't want revenge, just justice."
Police had never been convinced that Brown was
mentally unfit to stand trial and at one stage planned to secretly video
him to disprove the claim. A taxi driver who drove Brown and his wife
also disputed that his mental deterioration had been as great as
reported. However, police plans to prove their suspicions about Brown
were eventually abandoned.
Brown's wife Charlotte died in April 2002. Shunned by
his own extended family, some of whom said that he had sexually abused
him, Brown moved to a nursing home in Malanda, north Queensland. He died
there on 6 July 2002, never having been convicted for any criminal
offence and so officially an innocent man.
The news of Brown's death was not reported until
later in the month, after his funeral had taken place. The reaction to
news of his death was mostly one of satisfaction. Asked for his opinion
as to whether Brown had committed the murders of the Mackay sisters,
Charles Bopf, the man who had led the initial investigation, said:
It's not for me to say that he didn't because I
never interviewed him and he never admitted it to me and he's
entitled to the presumption of innocence.
However, commenting more generally about the case,
and the widespread belief that Brown had committed the murders, he also
said that he had wondered if Brown had made a deathbed confession, which
he hadn't. He added that: "Everybody's pointing the finger at him now,
but no one bothered to tell us anything about it then."
Police have now closed the file on the Mackay sisters
So how likely is it that Arthur
Stanley Brown was responsible for the disappearance of the Beaumont
children? Below are the arguments for, and the arguments against:
9. The evidence for Brown's involvement
Brown was clearly a paedophile. He was never
convicted of any criminal offence but the evidence that he had an
unhealthy interest in children is overwhelming. That he murdered the
Mackay sisters is also not greatly disputed; at his first trial the jury
could not reach a verdict, but not all the evidence that pointed to
Brown was admissable. Everybody involved with the case is satisfied that
Brown committed the murders.
Brown may also have been involved with the
disappearance of Marilyn Wallman and the murder of Catherine Graham.
This suggests that he was probably a serial killer. While there is no
direct evidence to prove he was ever in Adelaide, eyewitness and other
evidence suggests that Brown probably committed the Oval Abduction and
he seems to be by far the best suspect identified for this crime. It
takes little imagination to suggest that whoever abducted Joanne
Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon was also responsible for the disappearance
of the Beaumont children. Brown does resemble the "identikit" picture of
the suspect for this crime, as well.
10. The evidence against
There are a number of reasons to doubt Brown's
involvement in the crimes he is suspected of. Apart from the fact that
he never had a criminal conviction recorded against him, much of the
evidence is circumstantial. That he murdered the Mackay sisters isn't in
any dispute, but the two other cases he's linked to in Queensland may
well have not been his work. The timings on the Marilyn Wallman
disappearance do not suggest that Brown was responsible and there is at
least one other good suspect for this case. The link with the Catherine
Graham murder is also tenuous.
The link between Brown and the Beaumont children is
based on a resemblance between some identikit pictures and old
photographs of Brown. The famous "identikit" picture of the Beaumont
suspect is almost worthless and Brown's resemblance to the Oval
Abduction suspect may simply be a coincidence.
The primary eyewitness
identification is based on that of a woman who was aged 14 when she saw
him, only for one minute, and who then saw a picture of Brown, aged 86,
25 years later. Another eyewitness saw the suspect with black horn-rimmed
spectacles, but these were once fashionable.
Lastly, there is no real evidence that Brown ever
visited Adelaide, apart from one remembered conversation. Even if this
conversation was remembered accurately, it only places Brown in Adelaide
in the 1970s, not in 1966 when the Beaumont children went missing.